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Sounding the Alarm on Carbon Reduction

Thursday, October 13, 2016

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American architects are not keeping the pace needed to meet ambitious carbon reduction targets—i.e., carbon-neutral buildings by the year 2030.

That’s the conclusion of the American Institute of Architects in a recent report assessing the work of firms that are part of the AIA 2030 Commitment—a voluntary initiative to commit their practice to reducing carbon emissions produced by their buildings.

“We have made some progress in the overall program, with a noteworthy jump in the amount of buildings included in the report,” said Greg Mella, FAIA, director of sustainable design at SmithGroupJJR and co-chair of the AIA 2030 Working Group.

AIA 2030
© / cherezoff

In the United States alone, buildings account for almost 40 percent of national carbon dioxide emissions and out-consume both the industrial and transportation sectors, according to the U.S. Green Building Council.

“But we are simply not making significant strides in crucial metrics that predict building performance. These findings should serve as a wake-up call to architects that there needs to be greater urgency to drive improved energy efficiency across their project portfolios if we are going to reach our ultimate carbon reduction goals.”

By the Numbers

AIA said a total of 152 firms submitted data in 2015, a 9 percent jump over the previous year. Only 4 percent of the total gross square feet (GSF) represented in the data met the target of reducing carbon emissions by 70 percent. Ten percent of the total GSF represented met the previous target of 60 percent carbon reduction, according to the AIA.

As one of the bright points in the report, AIA noted that 614 design projects are meeting the 60 percent energy reduction target, a 42 percent increase over 2014.

Overall, the energy saved from the projects accounted for in the report is approximately 21 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator, this is the equivalent of powering 2.2 million houses in a year.

The report urges firms to make use of the AIA's recently launched 2030 Design Data Exchange (DDx), a web-based tool that allows design teams to benchmark and target energy performance through a range of analytical aids to drive improved energy efficiency.


Tagged categories: Carbon dioxide; Carbon footprint; Climate Control; Energy codes; Energy efficiency; Environmental Protection; Good Technical Practice; Green building; Greenhouse gas; Online tools

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